Making Sense of Deer Scents

Whitetail Deer Hunting Tips and Articles



4 Super Bucks Down, Rut 2015!! Deer Hunting Strategies That Worked!

Whitetail Deer Lures

The Coyotes are killing the Deer

Vic Brownell is a deer hunter. More than seventy years old a life-long resident of northern New York’s Adirondack Mountains, he is outspoken about his concern with coyotes preying on whitetail deer, When he examines summer coyote scats; he finds hair and hooves of deer fawns. The evidence seems pretty conclusive—coyotes do eat deer fawns. After a series of mild winters, the deer population in his area failed to increase the way you might expect. Obviously, something limited the deer’s productivity.



Vic believes coyotes catch too many fawns and prevent the deer from reaching their reproductive potential. He is not alone in this opinion. Many people think the same way. But coyote predation on white-tailed deer remains a controversial issue. Not only in New York, but in Michigan, Maine, and other states throughout the coyote’s range, sportsmen call for coyote control, longer open seasons or even removal of legal protection of the coyote as a game animal. By reducing coyote populations, they hope to encourage an increase in the numbers of deer. The effect of coyotes on deer populations is not a new concern. In 1956, A.W. Bromley wrote in the Conservationist magazine that in Hamilton County, an Adirondack county, sportsmen blamed coyotes for a decline in deer populations. Fawns, they insisted, were scarce in areas where they often saw and heard coyotes.

 Bromley countered their complaints by pointing out that in the same period when coyotes extended their range from 700 square miles to 16,000 square miles, the buck take rose from 4,600 in 1942 to 8,000 in 1954. Such an increase in the number of deer that hunters killed each year surely implied a growing deer population. I don’t remember that earlier controversy over coyotes and deer. In 1954, I was just starting kindergarten. I do recall listening to coyotes yodeling on the hillsides, however. They sounded a lot like a pack of beagle hounds chasing a hare. At the same time, I remember that we ate a fair amount of venison. So, when this new controversy over coyotes and deer began to heat up, I took an interest.

As an Adirondack native with the training of a wildlife biologist, I found myself in the middle and decided to turn to the literature for a look at the data to support either viewpoint, that of the sports-men or that of the state biologists.

At first, the issue seemed fairly clear cut. Early writers on the coyote, especially those in the western states, were death on coyotes. Now, in this enlightened age, we recognize the importance of predators in the ecosystem. Additionally, all the evidence points to coyotes being much more likely to scavenge and consume dead deer than to hunt and kill their own prey. As I delved into the literature of the last fifty years, however, I found that a number of modern biologists still consider the coyote a threat to deer populations, especially fawns, and that neither side in the controversy has enough data to draw iron-clad conclusions.

To make some sense out of the mass of conflicting reports, let’s look first at the literature on the eastern coyote—origins, food habits, population trends, and behavior. The history of the eastern coyote is obscured by the lack of any sort of definitive studies in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but there are decided differences in size and skull characteristics of coyotes from New York and New England as compared to those of the central and western states. Modern studies suggest not only structural but behavioral differences between eastern and western coyotes. The question is, how did the coyote get into the northeast, and what caused the differences we see?

 The most widely accepted scenario describes the coyote moving east along the Canadian border, crossing into New York in the early 1900’s and spreading into New England and Pennsylvania, reaching Maine by the mid- to late-1930’s. The early papers on coyotes in the east suggest hybridization with wolves or dogs. “Coydogs” became a particular concern of writers in the 1950’s when numerous reports of animals between coyotes and dogs in their appearance suggested to some biologists that a hybrid of coyote and dog might become established.

The coydog was a short-lived phenomenon and by the late 1960’s two separate research projects concluded that the wild canids of New England were a population that bred true, and a variety of Cctnis latrans,the coyote.

The eastern coyote of New England and New York is larger than the coyote of the west and has skull measurements and other characteristics intermediate between the coyote and the wolf. Most theories as to how it got that way now posit hybridization with the wolf in Ontario as it moved east. Ben Tullar, furbearer specialist in New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, offers an alternative explanation of the eastern coyotes’ origins.

He suggests that the coyote did not have to move east through Ontario to reach New York because it was always here, from before historical times. There has long been confusion in this country as to the difference between wolves and coyotes and colonial or early American records of “wolves” perhaps included coyotes (which many people to this day call “brush wolves”). Tuilai- suggests it was not the coyote that moved east, only the name.

The coyote, like the larger wolves, was nearly extirpated from New York and neighboring states in the nineteenth century, but remnant populations survived, and when habitat conditions improved in the twentieth century, their numbers increased. By that time, easterners were familiar with the coyote in the west and applied the name to the similar local animals. No “wolf’ skulls from the nineteenth century survived to provide evidence to either confirm or destroy the theory, and in any case, the question is largely academic. In practical terms, it matters not whether eastern coyotes became larger through hybridization on their way east or evolved in place over the years. What matters is that they are here now, and apparently here to stay, as a part of the wildlife community of the northeast. Biologists have collected a large body of data on the western coyote, but there are only a few studies of the coyote in the northeast.

Most of these look at coyote food habits. In New York, William J. Hamilton, Jr., analyzed the contents of some 1,500 coyote seats collected in the Adirondacks to determine what coyotes eat. Collected in all four seasons, these coyote droppings show that the animals’ diet changes with the time of the year, but the snowshoe hare is the most important prey species year-round. Deer are also an important food for coyotes, especially in the late fall, winter, and early spring. Overall,

snowshoe hare appeared in more than forty percent of the coyote seats, while almost twenty-seven percent of the seats contained deer hair or other remains of deer. More than seventy-eight percent of the coyotes’ diet consisted of various wild mammals, while twenty-one percent of the coyotes had eaten fruit such as berries, cherries, and apples. Ten percent of the coyote seats contained parts of insects. Livestock was at the bottom of the list, found in less than one percent of the coyote seats. By comparison, a coyote population in southern Quebec, where there are many small farms interspersed with wooded areas, fed mainly on carrion of domestic cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats. Jean-Marie Bergeron and Pierre Demers, who studied this population, found that thirty percent of the coyotes ate some sort of livestock, six percent ate snowshoe hares, less than five percent ate deer, six percent ate mice, and lesser numbers of stomachs contained other small mammals. As in Hamilton’s study, few of the coyotes had fed on wild birds, but in Quebec close to ten percent had eaten chickens. Eighty-three percent of the coyote stomachs examined contained vegetable matter. Two studies in Maine examined coyote food habits at different seasons. Voit B. Richens and Roy D. Hugie studied the stomach contents of coyotes killed in the fall and early winter. Daniel J. and Joyce A. Harrison, on the other hand, looked at the foods adult coyotes and their pups consumed in the spring and summer. Richens and Rugie recorded not only the frequency with which a particular food appeared in the coyotes’ diet, but the percentage of the total food by weight for each food type. White-tailed deer topped the list by weight, at thirty-four percent of the total. The snowshoe hare represented only about twelve percent by weight, but occurred in

twenty percent of the stomachs examined. Deer remains appeared in sixteen percent of the coyote stomachs. Fruit was eaten by fourteen percent of the coyotes, but only made up four percent of the total diet. The Harrisons reported their findings from a study of coyote drop pings in terms of frequencies. Blue berries were the most common coyote food, appearing in sixty-eight percent of the droppings, and was an important food from June through October. White-tailed deer, the second most common food, appeared in forty-three percent of the coyote scats. Snowshoe hare occurred twenty-nine percent of the time and small mammals twenty- one percent. There were interesting differences in the foods of adults compared to pups. In June, for instance, ninety-two percent of the pups’ droppings contained remains of white-tailed deer, compared to sixty-nine percent of the adults. Perhaps the oddest diet reported in the literature is the combination of apples and corn which apparently sustained a population of coyotes in central New York for at least one winter. Writing in the Conservation ist, Robert E. Chambers and his associates do not list percentages by weight or by frequency, but many of the scats, they say, contained nothing but apples and corn, which were the two main foods the coyotes ate. There is no suggestion that these coyotes fed on deer or hares; they did, however, consume dead dairy calves that farmers dumped in the back forty. There are other food studies, but these are representative of the kinds of data that have been collected.

The coyote is an opportunist, and many of the differences in diet from one place to another probably result from differences in what is available. If there is plenty of carrion available, coyotes do not hesitate to eat it. Lacking dead deer or dairy calves, they catch and eat hares, rabbits, mice or other small mammals. When fruit becomes abundant, ask is on the blueberry barrens in July, they consume k in great quantities. The trouble with food habits data is that at best it tells us what the coyotes ate. It does not tell us whether the coyote killed its own prey or only ate an already-dead animal. Few, if any, biologists deny that coyotes can and do kill deer.

The question is, when coyotes feed on deer, what portion is carrion and what portion freshly-killed by the coyote? In Michigan, John J. Ozoga and E.M. Harger tracked coyotes a total of 827 miles in the snow to see what they did, what they ate and to determine whether they were primarily predators or scavengers. They looked at two areas, one on an island in Lake Michigan and the other in the Upper Peninsula, and found differences in the way coyotes hunted and how successful they were in killing deer. In the Upper Peninsula study area, coyotes were three times more successful at killing deer than they were on the island. The greater

success probably related to much deeper snow and a deer population suffering from malnutrition. Many deer starved to death in the main land study area and the coyotes ate a great many dead deer. When Ozoga and Harger analyzed their tracking data, they

showed that, at least in the winter, coyotes were much more inclined to search for carrion than to hunt determinedly for live prey. They did kill and eat small mammals, and occasionally a deer, but only rarely did they trail or chase a deer for any great distance. The average chase was not more than sixty yards, and encounters between coyotes and deer seemed to happen mainly by chance. In Maine, Henry Hilton used a similar method to study coyote predation on deer. He calculated that coyotes succeeded in killing deer between fifteen and forty-eight percent of the time. If he defined success on the basis of the number of times the coyote killed a deer compared to how frequently the coyotes path crossed a fresh deer track, the success rate was fifteen percent. When he only looked at the instances in which the coyote attempted to catch a deer, the success rate was forty-eight percent. Ozoga and Harger described coyotes searching for carrion, and even digging it up from underneath as much as twenty inches of snow. Hilton observed little or no carrion-eating in his coyote population.

A series of unusually mild winters during his study reduced starvation in the deer herd to a minimal amount, so carrion was not available. Other prey, such as snowshoe hares, was also scarce, so coyotes were forced to become predators in order to survive. In comparing results of many research projects, it is always wise to keep in mind that many sources of variation affect the outcome. You are dealing with a different habitat, different deer, different coyotes, perhaps different weather. You are also dealing with different biologists.

Clues to the researcher’s particular bias are revealed in the way they interpret their observations. For instance, Hilton reports that “a total of seventeen dead deer was examined in the study area during the study, only two of which apparently were not killed by coyotes.” The assumption appears to be that the deer was killed by a coyote, unless there is strong evidence to the contrary. Ozoga and Harger lean more to the opposite bias and state that only one of fifteen dead deer found could be definitely attributed to coyotes.” Unless there was proof, they gave the coyote the benefit of the doubt.

Winter tracking studies, of course, do not show what effect, if any, coyotes have on the deer population by eating newborn fawns in the spring and summer. To date, no one has shed much light on the question here in the east or come up with any satisfactory method for finding the answer. In Oklahoma, Gerald W. Garner and John A. Morrison studied the interactions of coyotes and whitetail deer in an open prairie habitat. Of thirty-five fawns their equipped with radio-transmitters, thirty-one died, a mortality rate of eighty-eight percent. Ninety-seven percent that died were killed by predators, mainly coyotes. In that open country, Garner and Morrison could also watch coyotes and deer and record their behavior. On the open prairie, coyotes hunt primarily by sight, scanning the countryside until they spot a lone white-tailed doe, then closing in and searching the area until they find her fawn. Garner and Morrison learned how they could catch fawns to put radio-collars on them by watching the coyotes and then using the same method. It worked very well. The same method would not work well at all in the wooded and brushy habitats favored by the eastern coyote. If the eastern coyote, like its western cousin, hunts mainly by sight, the number of fawns coyotes find and kill must be very small. To my knowledge, no one has studied summer hunting behavior or success of the eastern coyote.

Winter tracking studies suggest that even in the wooded areas coyotes hunt primarily by sight. Ozoga and Harger found no evidence that coyotes follow deer tracks or run a deer like a hound, following the scent. Most encounters came about by chance and in heavy cover the chase was short: a quick dash toward the deer which probably ended when the deer went out of sight. Twice they found tracks of a single coyote engaged in a long and fruitless pursuit of a deer through open country. The way in which the coyote ran in straight lines and cut corners trying to catch up with the deer indicates that it was a sight chase, rather than a scent trail.

This brief overview of the literature on coyotes and deer leaves us a long way from answering the question of whether coyotes limit the deer population. Chambers suggest in their Conservationist article that actually the deer may control the coyote population. Coyote bounty records for New York show two periods of sharp increase in the coyote population. Each increase followed an exceptionally severe winter in which many deer died, providing the coyotes with an abundant food supply. Other authors show correlations between coyote and hare populations, or coyotes and mice.

The fact remains that we have, in New York and in several other states, a controversy over the relationship between coyotes and deer and so far we really don’t have the data we need to resolve the conflict. In 1982, the Northeast Deer and Furbearer Technical Committees of The Wildlife Society issued a joint statement of their position on the subject of coyotes and deer. First they recognized the fact that the coyote is here to stay and that, like all species, the coyote has a legitimate place in the animal community. The coyotes value as a fur-bearer cannot be overlooked and we mustn’t forget that the coyote also has aesthetic appeal. Admittedly, coyotes do kill deer, but they are also scavengers. The position statement also pointed out that often the areas where the people are concerned over coyote predation on deer are places where deer are not controlled by hunting, the range is badly over browsed and deer suffer from chronic malnutrition. In these areas, deer would not be able to increase even if coyotes were eliminated.  Finally, the Committees stated the wildlife manager’s responsibility to obtain and maintain data on coyote population trends, harvest and distribution. However, they are reluctant to engage in further research and warn against surveys simply for the sake of collecting information. The person or group that proposes new studies must prove they are necessary.

What is the sportsmen’s position on the issue? They are not convinced. Coyotes kill deer, too many deer. If those deer were allowed to live, hunters could kill them instead. Biologists don’t know how many coyotes there are, or how many deer they kill, and they aren’t even willing to try to find out. So, we are left with two opposing forces, the sportsmen and the biologists, and neither side understands the other. By the same token, neither group has enough data to back up its stance.

 There is a tremendous amount that we just don’t know about the coyote and its relationship to the white-tailed deer and snowshoe hare populations. Unfortunately, much of it we will probably never know, because there is no way the research can be justified on the basis of necessity. Coyotes cannot be controlled by hunting and trapping. It has been tried time and time again without success.

 Even if the biologists agreed to rescind the coyote’s protection as a game animal and allow year-round hunting and trapping, the coyote could never be eliminated, or even reduced in numbers over the long run, unless perhaps the habitat changed drastically again. Coyotes are prolific creatures. In small or heavily trapped populations, they average as many as seven pups per litter. According to Ben Tullar, we would have to take seventy-five percent of the coyote population each year, just to keep it from increasing, and that’s pretty hard to do. Personally, I’m glad the coyote is back in New York. I don’t begrudge him a few deer. After all, I understand. I like venison, too     Whitetail Deer Scent

How to use Deer Attractants

May 2, 2016

doe urine

Some people may be turned away at the thought of using doe urine, but it's actually an effective way to cover your natural scent and draw the curiosity of nearby bucks. You can pick up small bottles of this stuff from most sporting goods stores for about $20 bucks, which should last you multiple seasons depending on how much you use. If you're interested in using this powerful tool, keep reading and we'll go over some basic tips on how to effectively use doe urine when hunting. Rut While doe urine can be used during any part of the season to help cover your scent, it works best during the breeding season (rut). At this time, bucks are actively searching area forests and surrounding areas in hopes of finding a doe to mate with. You can use this to your advantage by placing a small amount of doe urine on the ground around your tree stand or hunting blind. Even if you can't smell it, nearby bucks and other deer will, and

hopefully it will draw their curiosity to see what's happening in your area.

Don't assume that breeding season is the only time when doe urine can be used, though. On the contrary, you can use it any time throughout

the season to help cover your scent and attract other deer. The fact is that bucks in particular are draw in by the smell of doe urine, so common sense should tell you that placing a little bit around your hunting location will draw them in.

Boots Along with placing doe urine around your tree stand or hunting blind, you can also place it on your boots. Just take a bottle of doe urine and place a few small drops directly onto the bottom of your boots. When you walk into the woods to find your hunting location, the urine will cover

your scent and leave a nice deer scent behind that bucks may pick up on and check out.Cotton Ball Another little trick I've learned while hunting is that you can cover your scent in a hunting blind or tree stand by placing a few drops of

doe urine on a cotton ball and hanging it on a tree branch around you. As long as the wind is blowing in the right direction, it should blow the scent directly into the path of oncoming deer, which will naturally help you out.

Deer Hunting Lure Tactic

May 1, 2016


Jose Cano was destined to become an accomplished deer hunter. Hunting is a long Cano family tradition that began in Cuba, where Jose’s father and uncles all hunted deer. After they escaped to the US, the tradition continued with the family hunting together and teaching the new generation born in Florida. Jose started hunting as a young boy with his father, brothers, and cousins in the South Florida swamps and prairies. The other hunters would laugh, “Here comes Jorge with his kindergartners.” Young Jose was a natural and quickly became a skilled hunter, taking more deer than the adults.

Today, after 45 years, Jose is an accomplished and respected deer hunter, and an expert with a bow, rifle, and black powder. He attributes his success to a natural understanding and instinct of knowing the land and deer habits, and he believes in spending the time before a hunt to scout the land and develop a strategy to pattern a mature buck, focusing on deer travel corridors and transition areas.

Jose hunts Florida, Georgia, and Kentucky. He believes Florida is the hardest hunt because of the habitat. Jose strongly believes in using deer scents as part of his hunting tricks; he uses doe urine early in the season, switches to doe estrous urine in the pre-rut and rut period, and he also uses dominant buck urine.  Jose enjoys the beauty and unpredictability of the outdoors, and he continues the Cano tradition by sharing his knowledge, experience, and success helping set other hunters up on deer.Click the images in the deer pictures gallery to view the full size picture.

Bow Hunting Whitetail Deer




February 4, 2016
February 3, 2016






The Rainy Season

February 3, 2016

Everything was wet and that means everything. “What away to treat a Pre-64 Model 70,” I thought disgustedly, as the rain pelted my body and ran in sheets off my equipment. Cold water trickled down the inside of my legs and I knew my long johns would be stained red from the wool shirt I wore. The past few buck seasons in my home state of Pennsylvania have been rainy ones. Someone forgot to tell the man in charge of such things that it was supposed to snow during December deer season, or at least be clear and cold. Hunting in frigid weather doesn’t bother me anymore, and snow can be a great benefit, but rain I detest. With firearms season generally only a couple of weeks long, however, we’d better learn to hunt the rains; waiting for a fair day may well mean no hunt at all.









Quality equipment can mean everything in wet weather, especially in the hunter’s choice of optics. That cheap scope that was so brilliantly clear in the summer may be next to worthless after a day in the rain. I’m not a rifle snob, knowing I could well take my bucks as easily with a 788 Remington as with my Model 70, but I admit to being prejudiced where scopes are concerned. An inexpensive rifle may shoot just as well as its more expensive brother, the difference being aesthetic more than anything else, but the difference in cheap and expensive scopes is usually durability. Under that durability umbrella comes the ability to handle moisture. A scope that lets even a little moisture enter its body will be useless when the temperature drops and allows it to freeze. Quality scopes include a better sealing system and this, plus better adjustments and lenses, are what you pay for. Clarity is just part of the picture and should be kept in mind when the scope is purchased. Lens caps are another indispensable item when the downpours come.


These inexpensive items are priceless when needed. Some come with two end caps and a gum band connector. Upon sighting gain, the shooter only need flick one end loose and the other will fly off too. Another type which I use has two independent covers which flip open like little doors when you flick the trigger. I’ve never had mine fail, although after hard use, I broke the trigger on one. Some lens caps have transparent plastic windows that I don’t care for. I just don’t like paying a couple hundred dollars for optics and then looking through pieces of plastic which diminish the image quality. Actually, a homemade lens cover cut from an inner tube works as well as anything. Just cut a two-inch band from an old tire tube, (if you can find one) and stretch it over the scope. One other thing I find indispensable is tissue, not for my runny nose, but to wipe off any rain that gets on my scope, and I do check it frequently.


The rifle itself should be prepared well before the season. All unfinished wood should be sealed. This means not only the magazine and barrel channel, but under the buttplate or pistol grip cap, I once owned a tack-driving rifle that after a good soaking wouldn’t keep its shots inside a dinner plate. Losing the accuracy of that rifle taught me a lesson. Most gunstocks are made of wood and, as we all know, wood is prone to war-page. In a gunstock even a very slight warpage can ruin accuracy, and even make the rifle that was so well-sighted-in shoot to a different point of impact. Even the changes in humidity in

one’s home can cause this shift in some instances. Very few rifles change point of impact because of loose screws. In ninety percent of the cases it’s wood shift. Keep this in mind when using a rifle in the rain.

 A heavy coat of wax will help protect that expensive finish and a little wax on the metal can prevent rust. In my own case, a soaked rifle will not be removed from the stock until the season ends, unless I can get to a range to re-sight it in. The simple operation of dismantling a rifle can again cause a major shift in aim. At the end of the hunting day, I may run a dry patch through the bore and fastidiously clean the outside, but if it is going to rust where I can’t get at it, let it. That big buck is more important than my rifle, because the rifle will wait, the buck won’t.

 Clothing becomes important during those cold, miserable rains. Nothing is worse than a soggy, down jacket. Down depends totally on its fluff to provide protection from the elements. When wet, it loses this fluff and is next to worthless. Much better is wool. Wool may be heavy, but it protects when wet. or dry. A good poncho or rain jacket is invaluable at times like this. Today’s rainwear can be rolled up and carried easily if you don’t need it.


My son, Pat, wears eyeglasses and has found the advantage of a wide-brimmed hat in wet weather to keep his vision clear. Not having one in the required orange last season, he took one of my western hats and wrapped it with blaze orange plastic. It was, quite effective. Rain means mud and wet grounds. No leather boot I’ve found is one hundred percent waterproof, so we wear rubber. Few things are worse than wet feet. Cigarettes and matches should be carried in waterproof wrapping, and I learned the hard way that chewing tobacco should also.


 Two years ago, my Levi Garrett ran down the back of my leg after a good soaking. Although not clothing, a piece of waterproof material about two feet square is invaluable for a ground cloth to sit on. Baggies are another thing I carry on wet days, In an emergency they can be placed on the lens of a scope while on stand, keeping it dry. Like every other hunter, sometimes the rains catch me unprepared. Normally on stand my rifle is leaned against a nearby tree or post, for I find it can be brought into action from that position faster than a slung rifle. Also, I squirm less than if it is held for an extended period of time. During a rain, it’s a simple thing to place a baggy or candy wrapper over the objective lens of the scope to keep it dry. When the rifle is raised, the paper will fall, leaving the scope clear. The ocular lens is naturally protected in this position.


The muzzle of the rifle should be shielded from rain or snow and this is easily accomplished. A baggy or piece of plastic wrap kept in place by a gum band will keep the bore dry, and the rifle can be fired in a hurry without removing the paper with no effects or change in accuracy. The secret here is to keep any bore protector outside the bore, NEVER in the barrel. It never hurts to carry an extra bore protector in one’s shirt pocket. It doesn’t take up much room and if you fire a shot or lose the one on the rifle, you have a spare. In fact, a few baggies and gum bands are a permanent fixture in the pocket of my wool hunting shirt. While most of us would much prefer not to hunt at all during rainy weather, many times it’s that or no hunt at all.


Seasons usually last only a couple of weeks, or less, and many more people have only a few days off from work. So hunt in the rain we must. Foul weather can come in different degrees and a mild rain is more a discomfort than anything else. During a mild wetting, the hunter can slip silently through cover, but visibility will be somewhat limited. This limited visibility may well be the biggest advantage of rainy weather. I remember well a deer a few years ago that I spotted in a field. It rained all day and in the afternoon turned foggy. Normally this cornfield provides 400 yards of view, but that day the visibility decreased to only about fifty yards. During one of the clearer periods I spotted him, a ghostly vision slowly crossing the field about loo yards away. Instinct told me he was a buck but how big?


The more I tried to make out his rack, the more the fog shrouded him and I watched as he worked his way into the woods and disappeared. Visibility is important and that day lack of it cost me a good buck. Oh, well, I think he had but one antler anyway. Does rainy weather diminish one’s chances? Because of all the problems related to it, I believe it does, but I also believe any day’s a good day to hunt deer. Last year saw another of those foul opening days. Despite the rains, Eileen, Pat and I all had bucks by noon. I shot a seven-pointer as it crossed a field in the rain, Pat got a nine-pointer chased to him by his mother, and Eileen stalked an eight-pointer as it lay in a thick tangle of briars. Soaked to the skin, cold and miserable, our spirits were not in the least bit dampened.


The hunter who hunts in the rain has a few precautions he should take to lessen the chance of losing a wounded buck. First and foremost, weather conditions should always be considered when taking a shot. Wounding a deer five minutes before quitting time leaves little time for tracking and rain washes out sign, making a tracking job very difficult When it rains, be sure of your shot. If the deer doesn’t drop, mentally mask the spot the deer was at and

the place where he was last seen. It isn’t easy to do that. Listen for the direction he takes when he hits the woods, the breaking of branches, crashing, etc. Take note of all this before moving, for it’s surprising how different things look when viewed from a different spot. Can deer be hunted successfully during a rainstorm? As I said previously, we all scored last year on a miserable opening day. The year before my buck came during a down pour, but the one that really taught me a lesson came long ago on a mountain in northern Pennsylvania.


It was one of the worst opening days in Pennsylvania history as far as rain is concerned. Some hunters actually carried umbrellas in the woods. More scopes fogged that day than is normal in ten years. One

manufacturer capitalized on that day by mentioning in his ads that his brand was the only one that survived in appreciable numbers. As is usual, I was on stand at 6:45 A.M, and already drenched. By noon the hordes that invade good deer woods had given up and were in their cabins pouring water from their boots, drying clothes on any available hangers and drinking coffee. I remained on my stand (partly because I was too stiff to move) questioning my sanity, and definitely miserable. I may not be smart,but I am bullheaded.

No hunter felt more elation than I did that day when he came, for I had surely earned him. Wet and tired, I actually enjoyed the solitude of the drag out of the woods with my eight-point trophy. The others may have been dry and comfortable but I’m the one who got his buck. I learned many things about being in the rain that year and now, though the down-pours may come, I’ll be out. No, I won’t enjoy the weather, but I’ll be there, baggies in my shirt pocket, perhaps a plastic garbage bag in my hip pocket. My arthritis may hurt, and my rifle may rust, but I’ll be there looking for my buck and probably I’ll get him.

February 4, 2016
February 3, 2016

Trophy Bucks and the Challenging Dilemma

January 26, 2016

Trophy whitetails! The mere mention of the subject attracts a lot of attention, especially in the last few years now, rather than mortgaging the house for an Alaskan hunt, many sportsmen direct their energy and money toward a quality whitetail deer hunt. And while most Americans pursue the elusive whitetail in their local areas, this ability is but a dream for many because of urban sprawl.

Urban sprawl has become quite a phenomenon during the past fifty years as thousands of Americans fled the farms in search of employment. Cities grew and housing developments sprang up in every metropolitan area. In the process, most of the valuable wildlife habitat I gave way to a thing called progress. With this progress came an array of laws and regulations. Heavily-settled areas became off-limits to hunters. Initially, this presented little loss to deer hunters because few of these areas contained any deer when urbanization increased in the 1970s. but, as the whitetail’s population grew during the last fifteen years, deer started moving back into these areas.

Unlike any of the other deer family members, the whitetail can thrive in man’s backyard. Whether it’s St. Louis, Missouri, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, or Buffalo, New York, the whitetail makes its presence felt. It’s this presence that has many people in these areas wondering what to do with the deer. Deer populations are on the increase because there is no hunting and the habitat is adequate. One such area is in and around the Town of Amherst, a suburb of Buffalo, New York In November, Buffalo News’ outdoor columnist, Michael Levy, got Buffalo area hunters’ adrenalin going by reporting that an Amherst resident had possibly claimed a new state record for a whitetail. Levy went on to write that Ted Frasier didn’t kill the buck while hunting but rather with his 1980 Pontiac Phoenix.

Being involved with the New York State Big Buck Club, I decided to check into the kill. What I learned of the buck and the area is worth sharing. The buck wasn’t large enough to become a new state record, but was certainly a trophy animal in every sense of the word. The big eighteen-pointer, aged at three and a half years, weighed approximately 260 pounds on the hoof and scored 183-7/8 in the Boone and Crockett non-typical category. Frasier hit the buck while driving along the Millersport Highway, in the Town of Amherst, Interestingly, the night before, Art Blackman, of Buffalo, was driving along the same highway and hit and killed a beautiful fourteen-point buck with his van. The buck Blackman hit, dressed out at 205 pounds and scored more than 130 in Boone and Crockett’s typical category. Ironically, Black man never saw the deer as it ran into the side of his van, inflicting $2,000 damage. At first, it would appear Frasier’s and Blackman’s stories were unrelated. But, because both deer were killed in the Town of Amherst, it makes them part of a growing dilemma.

Throughout this area, road-kills are becoming commonplace during the autumn months in the absence of a method to manage the deer population. Though the Town of Amherst seems to be where the majority of the road-kills occur, fringes of the towns surrounding Amherst, which is northeast of Buffalo, experience the same problem. This entire area, which contains 180 square miles of land, is off-limits to any form of deer hunting. Within this area you will find thirty square miles of prime deer habitat and therein lies the key ingredient behind all the road-kills.

The area consists of several good-sized commercial farms and much abandoned land which is reverting to brush and woodlots Though no one knows exactly how many deer are being killed by cars, the main thoroughfare in the area, Millersport Highway, has the most, According to Michael Levy, seventy-two deer were hit along Millersport Highway between January 1 and November 1, 1985. Then, when the rut was in full swing, the deer-car collisions took another jump. Big Buck Club officials reported that more than 150 deer were killed by cars in this area during 1985. The actual number probably was much higher because there were many more reports of motorists hitting deer but never finding them.

Sportsmen’s groups, as well as New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation are trying to address the growing problem, but it hasn’t been easy. One group, SCOPE—the Shooter’s Committee on Political Education—urged that some form of deer hunting be allowed in the Amherst area. Wildlife biologist, Jim Snyder, of Buffalo says, “The best method of managing the deer in that area would be with a firearms season—but that would never fly.”

He went on to say that the deer population is now at a point where deer cause considerable damage to shrubs in residential areas. Also, the commercial farms in the area, though small in number, are being impacted. Because of this situation, he hopes to see an archery season in the Amherst area by the fall of 1987. However, Snyder felt that for a bow season to take place, the public would have to be educated on what the deer are doing to the habitat. He said he gets calls from people complaining that deer are destroying the ornamental shrubs around their homes, but don’t want the deer hurt because they are “pretty.”

He has also heard the usual complaints about bow hunting in general. Because Amherst is an affluent area, getting a hunting season may be a little tougher than might be expected, but Snyder is confident that when all the facts are presented, legislation will be passed to allow a bow season. From a research standpoint, this chunk of white-tailed deer habitat, in the shadow of one of America’s largest cities, is providing some interesting insights. The white-tails’ ability to adapt to man’s presence is obvious, but what really makes it interesting is the genetics being demonstrated through antler growth. Right now, the deer habitat in this area is excellent. This, coupled with the bucks being able to reach their prime age, is producing some outstanding antler mass. Though the area does experience some heavy snowfalls during December and January, it hasn’t appeared to hurt the herd too much.

As the deer population increases, however, it will most certainly take its toll. But for now, the true magnificence of the whitetail is visible. Many avid deer hunters have gone into this area after the bucks drop their antlers to look for sheds. What they are finding is truly outstanding. The accompanying photo of Merritt Compton, official Pope & Young Measurer, shows four road-killed bucks from Amherst. All four were killed in the last couple of years. Bow hunters, who hunt the fringe of this area, reap the rewards of hunting next to a closed area. During the 1984 bow season, Jeff Morris of Tanawanda took the new record New York State archery buck not far from Amherst. Morris’ buck scored 175 in the Boone & Crockett typical category. On the one hand, it is nice to see this “gene pool” being created, but on the other hand, it’s a shame to see such a valued resource being managed by only Henry Ford’s invention. Right now, the deer in this area are prime animals, but without proper management, this could change rapidly. Hopefully, emotions will not overrule sound game management. And if sound management prevails, the thrill and challenge of hunting whitetails will return to this area after being gone for a generation.

By Buck Nut Deer Scent

Buck Rubs

January 26, 2016


           Fiction is sometimes more fun than the truth. Visions of big bucks spending the better part of cool October and November nights “rubbing the velvet off” and “polishing their antlers” may be enjoyable fantasies, but they do not represent biological reality. Bucks do leave their marks on saplings and small trees, of course, but not because it takes so long to rub the velvet off or that they spend considerable time polishing their calcium and phosphorus crowns.

Speaking of crowns, a big buck in east-central Minnesota carried an unusual one some 40 years ago.

 This deer fell through thin ice during the night of November 25, and I rescued it the next morning. It appeared to be almost lifeless, but after a few hours of warming in the garage, it assumed a normal bedding posture and appeared to be recovering. Before releasing it, I attached a collar with a radio transmitter to the antlers.

The radio collar was not designed for a buck, but it was the only transmitter available so I improvised, hoping it would stay on for a few weeks, so I could monitor the deer to see if it would survive. Radio-tracking locations indicated that the buck ranged normally for four weeks. Then, the radio location no longer changed and I recovered the transmitter, but not from a dead deer. The collar was lying at the base of a red pine sapling where the buck had rubbed it off. Antler growth begins in spring. Growth is unbelievably rapid during the summer; differences in antler point development can actually be seen from day to day in some captive animals.

 During growth, the antlers are covered with a velvet-textured “skin” containing a rich supply of blood vessels to carry the minerals necessary for antler growth. Antler growth and the velvet are described and illustrated well in Chapter 14 of Rob Wegner’s book (Wegner, 1984).As antler growth nears completion in late August or early September, the velvet begins to dry and the antlers become progressively more mineralized and harder.

Then, the velvet dries up and is shed, a process which can occur in a matter of hours, or it may take a day or more. My description of the behavior of bucks during the summer when the antlers are in velvet is that they lay around getting fat and growing antlers.” The bucks are more secretive than does at that time, and are not seen as often, at least by the casual observer. I made an interesting observation of a buck in a captive herd some years ago in July. Several of us were attempting to capture a fawn in the six-acre deer pen and we stretched a long, nylon mesh net out to “sweep” the area. As the net approached the bedded buck, he simply lowered his head and let the net pass over him!

After the velvet is shed, bucks begin to rub their hardened antlers on shrubs, saplings and small trees as an expression of increasing aggressive behavior. While their antlers do get polished by the rubbing, bucks are not “jewelry conscious,” and antler-polishing is not something they set out to do purposely.

So buck rubs are not the result of velvet-shedding, nor are they made because bucks “want” to have polished antlers. Buck rubs are field marks of the approaching breeding season. While the relationship between velvet-shedding, antler-polishing and buck rubs may be more academic than practical, there is an important point to make concerning the study of deer behavior and ecology. Beware of anthropomorphism, assuming that a deer does something for the same reason a human might. Rather, try to “think” like a deer; try to find the causes of deer responses, such as the chemical control described below. When a buck is in breeding condition and rubbing its antlers on whatever woody plants it takes a fancy to, it does so under “chemical control.”

 Male hormones take over and the buck’s behavior is regulated by these chemicals in his body. The chemical control of behavior can be so strong that caution is abandoned, at least temporarily, when a doe in heat is around. All of these behavioral traits area part of the rutting season. Now let’s turn our attention to buck rubs—their characteristics and the purposes they might serve. Buck rubs are made on woody plants that are neither too flexible nor too stiff.

 Apparently, bucks need some, but not too much, opposition as they push and rub on the plant. Buck rubs are part of the communication system of deer. Think of what it would be like if our sense of smell was as keen as a deer’s a whole new world would open tip for us. While we detect rubs by sight, bucks detect them by their keen sense of smell. The scent marks their home range, alerting other bucks to their presence and, perhaps, willingness to defend it from intruders.

The physical sparring which sometimes occurs between bucks probably excites a buck much more than pushing on a skinny sapling. Deer hunters who spend a lot of time in the field in the fall have seen their share of buck rubs. I know of no large-scale study, however, which systematically measured the physical characteristics of buck rubs, noting their locations on the terrain, the sizes of rubbed stems and the changes in the rub with repeated visits.

The cost of such a study on a large scale is prohibitive, unless there are interested and willing volunteers. Hunters participate in the study by making measurements when they are in the field. As you might expect, the computer now makes it possible to sort and analyze large amounts of data in seconds.

The results will be entered into a database and sorted in many different ways, looking for similarities and differences between areas, dates of measurements, heights and sizes of the rubs, etc. Read the instructions carefully and follow the directions exactly for filling out the cards. That is very important, because entering the information into the computer is time-consuming and the answers need to be recorded just as instructed in order to read the data quickly and correctly. The best tape measure is the fiberglass-coated type available in variety stores and fabric shops. It will not stretch, and the numbers will not blur if it gets wet. It’s a handy addition to your hunting pack and will be useful for other field measurements as well. The following information is to be recorded for each rub, with your answers.  

Contact your local WMA to find out where to turn in your results.

By Buck Nut Deer Scent

Making cents of deer scents

July 7, 2013

deer breeder

Deer farming has become a big money business these days. A single deer can urinate about half a gallon a day. That’s around $500 a day per deer before packaging and selling it to retail stores. A single deer can produce around $90,000 to $300,000 of deer urine each year. These are just estimates of what an average deer can produce and the deer urine market is growing every day. Regulations by State, Federal along with PETA, allow deer to stay in there stalls 12 hours a day with all they can eat and drink. I think anyone would agree that’s a fair amount of time. 

With 18,000,000 hunters in the United States and annual sales of deer scent, lures, and attractants sold each year near $44,000,000 the deer scent industry seems to be the business of the future farmer.

The first well known deer lure company started back in 1940. It was called Indian deer lure, but it didn’t contain any deer urine

Urine scent and lures really got its start in the 1960’s but it wasn’t deer scent it was a mink farmer that sold “what he called a secret formula and blend.” The Robbins Scent Company.

Whitetail deer scent is urine based for the most part. There are companies that add preservatives and even some well know companies that have what they call formulas to enhance the deer scent. There will always be debate of right or wrong when it comes to adding anything to a natural deer scent or deer lure.

Deer scent sales are growing rapidly across the united states. I think mainly because most hunters don’t have the time to spend in the woods scouting and planning there hunts like in the past. So a quick buy of a deer scent, deer lure, or an attractant for the hunter on the “go” is a quick fix. 


Jack Oliver of Shadow Valley Whitetails breads two kinds of deer.

Making sense of deer scents

Deer farming has become a big money business these days. A single deer can urinate about half a gallon a day. That’s around $500 a day per deer before packaging and selling it to retail stores. A single deer can produce around $90,000 to $300,000 of deer urine each year. These are just estimates of what an average deer can produce and the deer urine market is growing every day. Regulations by State, Federal along with PETA, allow deer to stay in there stalls 12 hours a day with all they can eat and drink. I think anyone would agree that’s a fair amount of time. 

With 18,000,000 hunters in the United States and annual sales of deer scent, lures, and attractants sold each year near $44,000,000 the deer scent industry seems to be the business of the future farmer.

The first well known deer lure company started back in 1940. It was called Indian deer lure, but it didn’t contain any deer urine

Urine scent and lures really got its start in the 1960’s but it wasn’t deer scent it was a mink farmer that sold “what he called a secret formula and blend.” The Robbins Scent Company.

Whitetail deer scent is urine based for the most part. There are companies that add preservatives and even some well know companies that have what they call formulas to enhance the deer scent. There will always be debate of right or wrong when it comes to adding anything to a natural deer scent or deer lure.

Deer scent sales are growing rapidly across the united states. I think mainly because most hunters don’t have the time to spend in the woods scouting and planning there hunts like in the past. So a quick buy of a deer scent, deer lure, or an attractant for the hunter on the “go” is a quick fix.    

Jack Oliver of Shadow Valley Whitetails breads two kinds of deer.

Shadow Valley Whitetails in Rivesville West Virginia is home to two different herds of deer.  We breed high quality, top bloodline genetics as well as some of the industries flashiest and most talked about piebald bloodlines. A piebald deer is half brown and half white. Some hunters call them pinto deer. Patch, a piebald breeder buck has become one of deer farming’s most talked about piebald bucks says Jack Oliver owner of Shadow Valley Whitetails.

Shadow Valley started in July 2000 with the purchase of their first doe fawn.  From the very beginning our goal was to have the calmest herd possible and to produce big, typical whitetails.  Over the past 13 years we have managed to acquire some of the top typical bloodlines in the deer farming industry.  Our bottle feeding program has secured that our breeding stock is calm and workable.  With the implementation of Artificial Insemination, we are able to keep up with some of the most popular genetics available.  Having a calm herd insures that the animals are easier to work with and less stressed.  Less stress mean a healthier herd Jack says.

Shadow Valley Whitetails is a supplier of deer urine to one of the top leaders in the deer scent industry Buck Nut Products. You can find deer scent from their facility like Peak Rut and Peak estrous along with other lures and cover scents     

Hunting whitetail deer can be a challenge. Bucks are very intelligent. It doesn’t take long after deer season begins for a smart buck to take cover and never be seen again. But you have help with the deer scent industry supplying everything from peak estrous to peak rut and even cover scents like dirt (fresh earth) and acorn scent to mask your human odor. Take every advantage you can find to lure that big buck to shooting range. During the “Rut” use something like a peak estrous or doe in heat to get a curious buck a little closer.

Just in the past 10 years the Muzzleloader (black powder) and Bow (archery) hunting has really taken off. Bow hunters especially need to get close to deer for a good shot, and fooling a big buck with the smell of a sexy doe is just one way to do it.

There will always be debate on the effectiveness of deer urine. Some hunters believe in them and some don’t. They must be working for quite a few because they keep coming back for more. One thing we do know for sure is deer use their nose to find each other and to keep safe from approaching danger. So the right deer scent at the right time of the year can be deadly. And the market keeps growing.


There are a lot of big companies in the deer scent and deer lure industry.

Buck Nut Deer Scents , Tinks 69 Deer Lure , Code Blue Deer Scent and Top Secret Deer Scent  are just a few…There are several smaller companies and the way the deer scent business in going there’s room for more.

Using fresh doe urine like a peak estrous or a buck urine like a peak rut are all advantages you need to consider. Every step you take in bringing the odds in your favor help in the success of your hunt.

There are several ways you can use deer scent and lures. Pour some on a cotton wick and place it about 20 yards in front of you. Some hunters will use a drag and pull it behind them on the way to their tree stand. By doing this it doesn’t alarm the passing deer and makes them think another deer has walked through the woods in that spot, limiting your chances of being detected.